About a year and a half after launching its body-worn camera program, the Rochester Police Department is getting new cameras.
The existing cameras are being replaced by the vendor at no cost to taxpayers and will be covered under the original warranty.
Officers were having problems connecting the original devices to docking stations where they upload videos. There were also some issues with battery performance and problems keeping the camera attached to officers’ uniforms. The original cameras have a standard pin clip.
"But the problem is, the clip was actually horizontal and the camera is a little heavy, so if you're running, it's kind of bouncing all over the place and falling off,” said Lt. Michael Perkowski. “With the new magnetic clip, it definitely keeps it more rigid on the officer. You clip it on in a downward motion, the clip is vertical, and gravity is helping to keep in on there, as well."
Despite the technical problems, there were no instances of lost video, according to Perkowski.
The new body cameras also have a new feature: a 30 second pre-record function that is muted.
"And we want it that way, because if the officer is in the lunchroom or sitting side by side another officer having a personal conversation and has to activate his camera rather quickly, we do see a picture of what's going on,” Perkowski said, “but we don't necessarily capture the conversation that was happening when the officer was aware that he was not recording."
The phase-in of the new cameras started in January. There are about 100 to 110 currently in use in the Clinton Section.
RPD introduced body-worn cameras in July 2016 in an effort to improve police-community relations and transparency.